Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Making an Adoption Lifebook - Part 1

If you are like many adoptive parents, you want to make a lifebook for your child. You really do, but you just can’t seem to get it done, or even get it started. Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone!

Let’s be honest ~ There will always be excuses to set your child’s lifebook project aside for ‘another day’. But, before you know it, another year has passed, and that box of photos, notes and documents is still tucked away in the closet…waiting.

Perhaps you are hesitant to make your child’s lifebook because you don’t want to say the wrong thing, aren’t sure what information to include or just can’t seem to find the right words to put to paper. “Writer’s block” looms large for many parents. Maybe trying to organize all of the documents, notes and pictures you’ve collected over the years into your child’s adoption story is too overwhelming. What if you don’t consider yourself creative enough to craft your child’s lifebook using the traditional scrapbook method?

Well, if a lack of creative talent, lack of confidence in your writing skills, or lack of time has put your child’s lifebook on hold for too long, maybe it’s time to get some help. I will try and provide some helpful advice and resources in my next few blogs... This month's tip...

Visit the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parent website where you will find several lifebook pages that you can download and print for free. You can pick and choose individual pages best suited to your child’s adoption story or download the whole set of pages to make a complete lifebook (just use a three-hole punch and a three-ring binder to compile the pages). The pages are available in both English and Spanish. Some of the pages are perfect for “interviewing” your child so you can include his or her memories, thoughts and feelings in the lifebook. Older children can fill out the pages themselves, and draw their own illustrations.

Something important to remember ~ A lifebook does not have to be a fancy work of art! It needs to be a truthful, child-centered account of your son or daughter's adoption story. Good luck!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

For Your Listening Pleasure

A suggested music playlist for adoptive parents ~

Somewhere Out There – James Ingram
These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs
Beautiful Boy – Céline Deon
When Love Takes You In – Steven Curtis Chapman
Baby Mine – Bette Midler
I Knew I Loved You – Savage Garden
You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
Time of Your Life – Green Day
In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride
Blessed – Elton John
Forever Young – Rod Stewart
A New Day Has Come - Céline Deon
Two Worlds, One Family – Phil Collins
Baby You Belong – Faith Hill
Welcome to Wherever You Are – Bon Jovi
Over The Rainbow – Ray Charles

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just for Fun

The kids had a fun time playing mini-golf last month! Ok - some of the dads had just as much fun, too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

W.I.S.E. Up!

This month, I'd like to share a few recent experiences I've had with my two boys. The first happened at a restaurant during our group's Family Nite Out last month. Our waitress came to take our drink orders and she asked me, "What kind of group is this? Are you a playgroup?" I answered, "We're an adoption group. We're all adoptive families."

"Oh," she replied. "I thought you might be. I saw that you are families with, um..." (she hesitated, looking for the right words). I finished her sentence for her,"... white parents with Latino children."

"Yea," she said, then added, "I was adopted from Korea. My family used to be in a group like this."

"Wow, that's cool!" I replied, and we talked a little more. I asked her if she still keeps in touch with any of the kids from that group. She answered, "Oh yes, all of them!" Turns out, she and her friends also attended a culture camp for children adopted from Korea, and she and her friends are now counselors at the camp.

I was happy I chose to "Share Something" that evening. The young woman also chose to "Share Something" with me, too.

The second experience happened while traveling over spring break. We'd spent a long day in crowded airports... over 4 hours of delays... rescheduled our flights three times... Finally, our flight home was ready to board. The gate attendant announced, "No food service is available on this flight and we expect to be delayed further after boarding. It is advised that you bring a snack with you." So, off we went to the nearest snack vendor. We quickly made our choices and upon completing our purchase, the man behind the register asked, "Are these your kids?"

"Yes" I answered. He quickly countered with, "Well, why they look different?" My boys just looked at the man with that caught-off-guard, "huh?" expression. I politely answered, "We're an adoptive family."

"But why they look different?" he repeated as he looked back and forth between my fair-skinned, blond-haired, green-eyed son and my brown-skinned, brown-eyed, black-haired son. This time I chose to say, "We have to go now, they're calling our flight for boarding." I didn't have the patience or the time that day to educate anyone about adoption, or explain why my two boys don't look anything alike. So, in the W.I.S.E. Up! way, I chose to "Walk Away" that time.

Most adopted children (and parents) are subjected to questions about adoption. The questions are sometimes intrusive and often unexpected. It is important for parents to model appropriate ways to answer (or not answer) the inquisitor when the child is watching and listening. By the time children enter school, they need to be prepared to handle adoption related questions and comments on their own. The W.I.S.E. Up! Powerbook gives children (and parents) a powerful tool to help them handle comments and questions from classmates, friends, neighbors and strangers. It teaches them they have a choice when it comes to sharing their adoption story. They can Walk Away. They can say, "That's Private." They can Share Something. They can Educate Others.

The book is geared toward children ages 6 to 12 years old. It is published by the Center for Adoption Support and Education.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Read this Book!

I recently purchased and am currently reading Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child - From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years, by Patty Cogen.

The book helps adoptive parents to understand their child's sometimes puzzling or difficult behaviors. The author offers simple strategies for addressing the issues that are commonly seen in infants, toddlers, and older children who have joined their families through adoption from other countries. The text is clearly written, well organized and best of all - offers useful, professional advice that any parent can easily follow.

A large portion of this book is available to preview on line at

I highly recommend this book! I think it is a must read for any parent of any child adopted from any country at any age.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Take Time to Make Time

At our house, ski season is winding down. Little League season is right around the corner, then comes summer camp, then it's soccer season! Add in some music lessons, gymnastic lessons, school, scouts, birthday parties and holidays... Whew! Family life with kids is always busy! Who has time for a support group, right??

Well folks... you gotta take time to make time. Support is important!

According to the North American Council on Adoptable Children (, family support groups are especially important for children who were adopted from other countries and cultures. Family support group gatherings offer international adoptees the opportunity to:

~ meet and interact with kids who have had similar life experiences
~ gain insight into some of their own behaviours and family issues
~ meet other children who look like them
~ meet other (mixed-race/adoptive) families like theirs
~ feel less isolated and alone
~ increase their self-esteem

Both parents and children who participate in adoptive family support groups find acceptance and understanding.

The following paragraph is from "Groups of Support" by Suzan Black published in Adoptive Families Magazine:

"Almost every adult adoptee I have talked to who was not involved in a group with his or her family has mourned this fact. Almost everyone has said, When I was growing up, I wish I had known other kids who were adopted just like me. I had no one to empathize with what I was going through. I felt really alone at times. Our children will face many, many issues regarding their adoption as they grow up, and a group will allow them to interact with other children who have been through similar feelings and issues."

Peter Morgan, an adult adoptee wrote this for the Adoptee Reflections section of Adoption Today Magazine:

"I guess if there is a single most important thing that my parents did to support me as an adoptee it is involvement. I think involvement is so important for adoptive families. There are so many families out there with the same questions, issues and adopted children who would love to meet each other. I feel fortunate that my parents kept themselves and me so involved throughout my years growing up."

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's On Your Bookshelf?

Are you wondering what books to purchase for your home library? A few favorites at our house include: The Race of Toad and Deer by Pat Mora, Eight Animals on the Town by Susan Middletown Elya, Rain Player by David Wisniewski, and The Hummingbird King by Argentina Palacios.

You might be interested in checking out the following on-line resources. Powerful Hispanic and Latin-American Images Revealed in Picture Books is a long list of children's literature compiled by Kay E. Vandergrift and Denise Agosto. "With lovely illustrations and delightful texts, the following picture books feature positive portrayals of Hispanic and Latin American children. Strong images of these many cultures can make Hispanic and Latin American audiences feel admired and respected, while teaching non-Hispanic and non-Latin American audiences to appreciate these communities." Click here to see this large list of books.

For another book list which includes books in Spanish, books in English, and bilingual books, visit Colorin' Colorado's Hispanic Heritage Book List and their Fiesta books page.

To purchase children's books on Mayan culture, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Latin America, pay a visit to Terra Experience.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fruits, Veggies & Latin America

During the summertime, we love growing our own veggies and fruits. Having a garden is a great way to encourage kids to eat their recommended "5 a Day" servings of fruits and vegetables. We also enjoy visiting our local U-pick farms to harvest our own fresh food. But, since we live in "el norte" - gardening is not an option for us during the snowy winter months.

An abundance of produce is imported to the USA from Central and South America during the winter months. So, here's a fun activity to do with your kids that will hopefully encourage them to eat their fruits and vegetables, and will also teach them a little about the location of Latin American countries. It's easy to identify the country of origin on a piece of produce by simply looking at the sticker! Here's what we've enjoyed so far:

Cantelope and watermelon from Guatemala and Honduras
Grapes and blueberries from Chile
Strawberries, lettuces and avocados from Mexico
Bananas from Equador and Colombia
Apples from Argentina

Save those produce stickers! Get out a map of Latin America and locate those countries on the map. Attach the stickers to the map to see where your fruits and veggies were grown. For an outline map of Latin America that you can print, click here.

For a visual guide to tropical Latin American produce with links to recipes visit Happy snacking! MMMM! Delicioso!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our Summer Beach Blast!

What could be better than an afternoon of perfect weather, swimming, catching fish, a picnic dinner, and playing on the beach with your friends? Well, just add a mini-landscape complete with erupting volcanoes! Our Beach Blast was a lot of fun! Here's a few pictures of the kids making their volcanoes...

Making the mini-volcanoes added an extra element of fun, but also provided an opportunity to introduce the kids to the fascinating geography of their birth countries. Numerous volcanoes are found throughout Central and South America. Check out this link to learn more: Volcanoes_of_Central_and_South_America. A terrific Usborne Beginners book for kids is, "Volcanoes" by Stephanie Turnbull available through Scholastic, Inc.

Here's how we made our volcanoes... Put 3 T baking soda and two squirts of dish soap in an empty 16.9 oz water bottle. Add a little water to dissolve the baking soda. Build your cone around the bottle using beach sand. Leave an opening at the top. Pour in 2/3 cup vinegar. Wait for the eruption! Watch for "smoke" coming out first, then the bubbly "lava."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spring Picnic

Our Spring Pot-Luck Picnic was on May 31st. What a fun afternoon! We enjoyed wonderful weather, delicious Guatemalan and Colombian food, the company of old friends & we welcomed some new friends. Best of all ~ the kids had so much fun playing together! Aside from playing kickball and tag, the kids made cascarones.

Cascarones are decorated chicken eggs that have been emptied out and filled with confetti. They are a tradition at many types of celebrations in Spain, Guatemala, Mexico and the Southwest United States. In the Spanish-speaking world, they are traditionally broken over a person's head to wish them good luck! They also represent "new beginnings" which is perfect for spring time. After we made them, the kids couldn't wait to use them! How often do you get to crack an egg over your friend's head!?

Making cascarones is easy. Here's a link to instructions: How to Make Confetti Eggs - Cascarones Here's a photo of our cascarones.